Name of the Competition – International Bar Association-Vienna International Arbitral Centre Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition Vienna, 2018

Location – Vienna, Austria

Dates – 17-20 July, 2018

Participants – 22 Negotiation teams and 11 Mediator teams from all around the globe after a comprehensive competitive selection process. MNLU Mumbai was one of only 2 institutes across Asia to be selected as one of 11 mediator teams.

Represented by – Yashraj Samant (4th year student) – as mediator

Result: Yashraj Samant finished the preliminary rounds as the 2nd best mediator and finished finals as the 3rd best mediator of the competition.

Overview: CDRC Vienna, 2018 is one of the most prestigious mediation competitions in the world being organized by Vienna International Arbitral Centre – CDRC. MNLU Mumbai, in its moment of pride became the only institute from the Asian continent to make it to the semi-final stage of the mediation segment. The competition features a massive spread from all over the globe featuring an international mix of participants and expert assessors.

The competition tests its participants on various parameters, including ability put thoughts clearly on the table and handling various interests of parties, thinking on the feet during tough negotiations and how to solve an impasse between two warring parties. The problem for mediation is taken from the Willem C. Vis (Vienna) Moot Court competition and adapted for negotiation purposes. It remains the same throughout the competition with changing confidential information(s).

Selection Process: MNLU Mumbai and NLU Delhi were the only 2 Asian institutes selected to participate in this competition after a rigorous selection process consisting of written and video applications. 11 mediator teams were selected from over 150 applicant institutes.

Summary of the competition

Day 1 – 17th July, 2018

The first day featured a welcome address swiftly followed by multiple workshops/sessions taken up by the world renowned mediators/negotiators training the participants in mediation and negotiation and prepping them for the competition. The spread of experts heading these workshops included some of the biggest names in the ADR circuit – Greg Bond, Tom Valenti, Tat Lim, etc. The evening culminated with a get-together dinner for all participants, coaches and experts which is a great opportunity for networking.

The competition structure had 3 preliminary rounds for the all the teams and based on total scores, the participants then proceeded to the next round which consisted of 8 negotiating teams and 4 mediators thus making it the semi-finals for the mediators and the quarter finals for the negotiators. This was followed by the next round which featured 4 negotiating teams and 2 mediators which means it was the final round for the mediators. The finals for the negotiating teams are then mediated by the winning mediator.

Day 2 – 18th July, 2018

2 preliminary rounds were held on this day and Yashraj Samant mediated his first round between teams from Singapore Management University (semi-finalist) and the Deakin University from Australia. It was an enthralling round with both teams playing heavily on positions as opposed to interests, making the mediation a challenging one. The 2nd round of the day for MNLU Mumbai was to mediate between the Istanbul ?ehir University from Turkey and University of Florence (Law School) from Italy. The cross-cultural differences were evident in this round and therefore, the mediator and the negotiators had to be mindful of the same. To get the teams on the same page was a huge challenge in this round. Yashraj received positive feedback from the expert assessors for his performance in both the rounds. The day culminated with another dinner planned to give a feel of Vienna.

Day 3 – 19th July, 2018

3rd preliminary round and the semi-finals for the mediators were held on this day. In the 3rd preliminary round, MNLU Mumbai was the mediator between the MGIMO-University, Russia (Eventual runners-up) and University at Buffalo, U.S.A. (Quarter-Finalists). This was a fantastic round and all the three teams involved received immense praise from the expert assessors.

The results for the preliminary rounds were declared and Yashraj Samant made it through to the semi-finals of the mediators ranking in as the 2nd best mediator of the preliminary rounds.

The next round was between University of New South Wales, Australia and Singapore Management University mediated by Yashraj. It was a grueling round with both teams flatly refusing to even discuss on the same issue. This was an intense round which called for a lot of innovative techniques being employed by the mediator. The mediator even called for a cross-caucus (a rare occurrence in mediation competitions) understanding the impending need for the same. This was heavily praised by the experts in their feedback. However, the parties were still adamant on playing on positions and forego their interests which resulted in a tense round overall.

Upon announcement of the results of the finalists and the evening reception, MNLU Mumbai was a shot away from the glory as it ended its run in the competition ranking in as the 3rd best mediator of the competition.

Day 4 – 20th July, 2018

The finals for the mediators and the finals for the negotiators were also held on this day. The finals involved MGIMO University, Russia and NLSIU Bangalore as the negotiators, mediated by SOAS London. SOAS London won the best mediator and NLSIU Bangalore was adjudged as the best negotiating team.

Key Takeaways – MNLU Mumbai and Yashraj Samant ranking as the 3rd best mediator of the competition is a true reflection of the strides that the University has made not only at the national but at the International level. This is the very first achievement for the University at an International Competition – one of the most prestigious in fact.

Some of the key observations which Yashraj identified during the course of those 4 days is that as mediator/negotiator, realizing and addressing the cross-cultural differences is one of the most important things. At a time, you are usually dealing with 6 different nationalities – 2 negotiators and 3 expert assessors and all of them have different likes and dislikes sometimes even conflicting ones. Being mindful and accommodative of all of those is a skill in itself and especially integral in an international competition of this kind.

Being unique as a mediator is also something that this competition really tests. How can one be unique and what can they bring to the table that others can’t which would make a mediation setting that much more effective is also something that needs to be kept in mind.

One thing which is unique to this competition is the kind of atmosphere in any given mediation round. In the 90 minute session, it is the truest reflection of a real-life mediation in any given competition. You face all the challenges that you do in a real-life situation.

The quality of expert assessors and participants is second to none at this competition. And having such an exclusive set of participants limited to 33 total teams also plays to the benefit of all as you have a lot of opportunity to build long-lasting professional relations and network incessantly. The frequent interactions with Partners from Internationally renowned firms such as Jones Day and Knoetzl can also be great for a legal aspirant. The involvement of the International Bar Association and the Vienna International Arbitral Centre is again, an added advantage. One can make the most of these competitions through networking and creating a pathway to their future.

Another aspect that was noticed was that every team was highly prepared for this competition with months of preparation and were accompanied by a coach. The importance of a coach cannot be stressed upon enough as s/he knows the participant inside-out and suggests minor tweaks in your style accordingly. A coach actually enables you to make the most of the feedback received from the assessors by incorporating it in your set-style.

The experience could potentially serve as the catalyst for the future successes of MNLU Mumbai at a global level in all the academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

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